St George-Illawarra expect Titans ambush on Gold Coast

Back-rower Joel Thompson is bracing for a bruising encounter against the Titans on the Gold Coast this weekend. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Back-rower Joel Thompson is bracing for a bruising encounter against the Titans on the Gold Coast this weekend. Picture: ROBERT PEET

RUGBY LEAGUE

Dragons back-rower Joel Thompson says his side cannot finesse their way to a finals berth as they prepare for an all-out scrap with the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Early season leaders the Titans enter the match on the back of five straight losses but, with a pack boasting the likes of Origin hard men Nate Myles and Greg Bird plus 120kg behemoth Dave Taylor, are renowned for leaving other teams bruised.

Thompson, who produced perhaps his best performance at the the club in the 18-14 loss to Penrith last week, is wary of a Titans ambush.

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"It's a tough road trip and people who think it's not going be tough are kidding themselves," he said.

"Every team's tough in the NRL and it's not going to be any different with the Titans.

"You could say they're a world class pack and as a forward I look forward to the challenge of taking on a pack like that.

"It'll be all about rolling the sleeves up and getting ready for a war because they've got some big boys up there. We forwards will probably take a bashing but that's what we need to do for the team."

The Dragons pack has been no stranger to bashings on and off the field this season - they bore the brunt of criticism for a stretch that's seen them win two of their last 10 matches but Thompson refuted suggestions that they lack hunger.

"We've had a tough year so far, but it's not from a lack of trying," he said.

"The forwards were getting sprayed. We were copping it but we're putting in.

"We're trying hard and working hard for each other.

"It does get frustrating but it's a proud club and we need to get results. It's definitely not from a lack of trying so hopefully we can keep improving each week and start pulling in those wins."

After spending much of the preseason exclusively shadowing Gareth Widdop on the left, Thompson spent much of the year filling in at centre or back-row on the right due to injuries line-up reshuffles.

He's returned to his favoured left edge and produced a team high 15 hit-ups against the Panthers as the Dragons lost a tight one.

"I'm a left back-rower and I always have been," Thompson said.

"I've filled in different positions because of injury and other things but it's good to be back in that position and doing the things I do best."

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